By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 06, 2014 at 10:35 AM

When Milwaukee's West Side High School graduated its first class in 1898, it published "Hesper," its yearbook. A copy of the book is preserved in the stellar local history collections at Milwaukee Public Library and it opens a window into one of Milwaukee's earliest high schools.

The book has images of all the graduating seniors as well as a wide variety of clubs. There are also photos of the interior of the building, offering a rare peek inside a 19th century Milwaukee schoolhouse. While a fair amount of exterior photos and drawings survive of old schools, pictures of the inside spaces are harder to come by.

West High School (later West Division) began in 1895 and was housed in the Plankinton Library Block on Grand Avenue while a permanent home was constructed on 22nd and Prairie (now Highland), at a cost of $80,000.

The building drew acclaim for its stately neoclassical design, with one newspaper writing, "there is no great amount of gingerbread work, but the harmony of the lines and angles  relieve it from plainness and make it a work of architectural art."

Spencer Tracy and Gen. Douglas MacArthur went to school in the building, which was demolished in 1960 after being replaced with the current building, which became Milwaukee High School of the Arts in 1984.

Here are a few of the then-brand new building, designed by Herman P. Schnetzky and Eugene Liebert, with the latter typically receiving credit for the school's appearance.

"A work of architectural art."

Handsome from this angle, too

The office

The assembly hall with the teacher's desk on the rostrum

The drawing room

The gymnasium

A very rare photo of the boiler and its operator

A (hopefully) light-hearted page

The descriptions of the female third-year students on this page are mostly harsh -- and they get harsher as toward the bottom of the page. But, hopefully, they are in jest. Surely, future MPS assistant superintendent Dorothy Enderis -- who has a park, neighborhood and UWM building named in her honor -- could not have been "found wanting."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.